Gay groups are cheering the Obama
administration's just-announced AIDS strategy.
The report, announced Tuesday in
Washington, outlines a strategy for combating the AIDS epidemic by
shifting resources to the disease's highest at-risk groups, which
include gay and bisexual men and African-Americans.
“Such a plan is long overdue, and
implementation can't happen fast enough,” Rea Carey, executive
director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, said in a
release. “Each day without action means lives are changed forever,
lives that are disproportionately gay, bisexual, transgender, people
of color, and the financially disadvantaged.”
The administration aims to curb the
number of new HIV infections by 25 percent over the next five years
and increase by 20 percent the number of HIV-positive people
receiving treatment within 3 months of their diagnosis, up from the
current 65 percent.
Officials at the Office of National
AIDS Policy (ONAP), the federal agency tasked with implementing the
strategy, said they can accomplish these goals without increasing
federal spending by focusing on groups most at risk for infection.
Sharon J. Lettman, executive director
of the National Black Justice Coalition, a group that seeks to
eradicate racism and homophobia, welcomed the changes, saying that
the Black community has been “devastated by HIV/AIDS.”
“African Americans represent
approximately 12 percent of the population in the United States, and
according to the CDC, account for nearly half (46 percent) of people
living with HIV in the United States, as well as nearly half (45
percent) of new infections each year,” she said.
Some AIDS advocates criticized the plan
for not doing much for those already coping with the disease.
The administration's three-pronged
strategy also calls for combating stigma and discrimination
associated with the disease.
AIDS activists have criticized previous
administrations for not outlining a comprehensive strategy for
combating the epidemic domestically. Work on the national AIDS
strategy began at the start of the administration.